The killing of 81 people over the weekend in various communities in Benue has once again brought to the fore one of Nigeria’s biggest and yet ignored problems.
Fulani herdsmen, who are nomads and take their cattle across states for grazing purposes have clashed with farmers on whose lands their animals have grazed without permission.
To be fair, the herdsmen themselves have for years reported incidents of cattle rustling and a lack of a timely solution has slowly seen a simple situation grow into a disaster. 2016 has been dominated by brazen attacks by Fulani herdsmen on communities such as Agatu in Benue state and Ukpabi-Nimbo in Enugu state.
The Federal Government’s response, if it can be called that, has been the unimaginative and tired suggestion of creating grazing reserves. Criticism over a bill to that effect seems to have knocked the stuffing out of that idea and the Buhari administration has resumed its curious silence.
To be sure, it is the failure of the Nigerian government to protect their citizens that has brought us here and given how nonchalant the government appears now that the situation is clearly out of hand, there appears to be a clear lack of direction at the Federal level.
The numbers are piling up and we’re quickly becoming insensitive and indifferent- these people should not be reduced to mere statistics. They are citizens of Nigeria, parents, brothers, friends, whom the government has failed.
The negligence of security forces can also not be dismissed. In the case of the deadly attack in Ukpabi-Nimbo, security forces had been alerted by residents severally when they observed the movement of large numbers of Fulani herdsmen in the otherwise sleepy town.
In Benue, the situation was the same, with residents citing negligence on the part of security officials as the biggest problem.
It is unconscionable to have a government which will react to foreign disasters promptly but will then fiddle while our home front burns.